SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- The President of the San Francisco School Board refused to recite the Pledge of Allegiance during last Tuesday's meeting. Now, Stevon Cook is defending his actions in response to some criticism.
It's been a tradition. Following roll call, school board members in San Francisco stand to say the Pledge of Allegiance, but last Tuesday night, the Board President, Stevon Cook skipped it, instead he quoted author Maya Angelou.
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"Tonight we start this meeting in honor of the acclaimed author and activist Maya Angelou, who once said 'When you learn, teach. When you get, give,'" expressed Cook before starting the meeting.
"I think we live in a great country, this country has given me a lot," said Cook, who assures he will continue to encourage others to recite the Pledge, but while he's president of the board, he will honor those he believes are American patriots.
"I really believe in honoring American citizens. I think in San Francisco we've done that in a great way. We have a school named after Harvey Milk, Benjamin Franklin is a personal hero of mine," he explained.
The board is not obligated to say the Pledge, but schools are. In fact, 43 states have laws stating it has to be recited, but students can opt out. Seven states, Iowa, Hawaii, Michigan, Nebraska, Vermont, Wyoming and Maine have no laws.
The Pledge of Allegiance was written in 1892 by Francis Bellamy. He was a left-wing socialist minister. That phrase, 'Under God' was not written by him. It was President Eisenhower who convinced Congress to add it in 1954.
Parents are now weighing in on Cook's decision.
"It does challenge me to think, how do I feel about certain things. I am an American. I do understand that things are going on that shouldn't be going on," said parent, LaSaundra Gutter.
"I've been in the states like 29 years, my kids are born here and I love that fact that they recite it every morning," expressed Olive O'Brian.
Cook now wants feedback from the public, not on his decision, but to suggest names of other great Americans who, he says, deserve to be recognized.
San Francisco school board will not recite Pledge of Allegiance